Amid ‘distressed’ Taal evacuees, fishers seek ‘permanent evacuation centers’ program
Manila, Philippines – The national fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Thursday seeks for the institutionalization of permanent evacuation centers program as almost a million of residents of Batangas province languish at improvised evacuation centers after the Taal Volcano erupted last week.
PAMALAKAYA is referring to the program proposed by the House Bill No. 5259 filed by lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc, that two to three contiguous barangays should be constructed with a permanent evacuation center to accommodate population affected by natural calamities.
“Paulit-ulit na lang nating nakikita ang problema sa evacuation, akala natin ay magiging epektibo ang response ngayon dahil may mga aral na tayong nakuha sa karanasan sa bagyong Yolanda, pero may mga problema pa rin. Makikitang nagkulang ang gubyerno sa kahandaan o plano,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and a former Anakpawis Party-list lawmaker said in a statement.
He added that aside from the socio-economic conditions of poor sectors which is the main basis of their vulnerabilities to natural calamities, the absence of an institutionalized evacuation program adds to their miseries.
“Halimbawa nito ay may mga evacuation centers na nanawagan ng potable water, na batayang pangangailangan ng mamamayan. Sa isyung ito pa lamang, nagkulang na ang gubyerno,” Hicap said.
The bill pushes that evacuation centers be designed and equipped with: cubicles to house a family of five; restrooms; centralized kitchen and laundry areas; generator, adequate water supply, a rainwater catchment system and natural ventilation system; a clinic with necessary equipments; stockrooms for relief goods and facilties for disaster-response functions.
More than one week after the Taal Volcano erupted and displaced at least a million of residents of Batangas, mostly coastal families, the national government, according to PAMALAKAYA, has yet to implement a concrete step on how to systematize the evacuation and rehabilitation of the victims’ damaged lives and livelihood.
“Mayorya ng mga evacuees ay umaasa pa rin sa mga short-term relief packs. Sa ulat ng NDRRMC na P27 milyong halaga ng pinagsamang tugon ng DSWD, DOH, DepEd at mga LGU, papatak na average ay P700 kada evacuee family o P70 kada araw. Ito ang mismong nagtutulak sa mga biktima na bumalik sa mga kabuhayan nila,” Hicap said.
The group urged the Duterte government to institutionalize the permanent evacuation program as strengthening of the country’s capacity to cope and reduce vulnerability of poor sectors, who are predominantly farmers and fisherfolk.
Moreover, the government should prioritize disaster preparedness, guarantees to the victims and rehabilitation. It should also adopt a pro-people scientific framework where experts should consider the social costs of their conclusions and recommend measures to alleviate the detrimental impact on the population’s sources of livelihood. ###